Gold Towns

People gathered on a street of houses in Goldenville, NS.

With the influx of gold miners to the gold mining districts, boom towns sprang up around the province. Tangier, Goldenville, Waverley, Renfrew, Oldham, Goldboro all owed their existence to gold.

Law-abiding Communities

"In Nova Scotia, Gold mining, like everything else, has developed itself in an orderly and law-abiding spirit. The improvised community at Tangier has been permitted to govern itself. There was been no resident Magistrate, or policemen … There has not been an act of violence, or a life lost, hardly a blow struck. Two men, detected stealing, were drummed out of the settlement and larceny is unknown. Men sleep and work unarmed, leaving their property secure in their huts …" Joseph Howe, Provincial Secretary, 1861

Down on Gold Street, Tangier

A hand-coloured engraving, 1861, showing a row of huts at Tangier, NS.

A hand-coloured wood engraving of New Gold-diggings in Nova Scotia: Gold-Street, Tangier, published in the Illustrated London News, September 14, 1861. Based on a drawing by Captain Campbell Hardy

AGNS: 1995.405

Captain Campbell Hardy wrote in the article which accompanied the engraving of Gold-Street, Tangier in the Illustrated London News that,

A good road has been cut through the dense fir forest... Gold-street, as it is called — an assemblage of wooden houses, or rather shanties, raised up at an expense of some £2 or £3 in this country of cheap timber — is the subject of our Engraving. A town suddenly appearing in the midst of the woods, without clearings, fields, or inclosures, full of shops, or rather stores as they are called in America, where anything can be procured, from a crinoline to a bottle of Bass's pale ale, may be certainly reckoned amongst the novelties even of the New World; whilst the universal civility and good manners of its inhabitants would certainly hardly agree with the notions of the character of the gold-digger as forwarded to us from the Eldorados of Australia and California.

Churches and Schools

A painting by Joseph Purcell showing Waverly, NS during the heyday of gold mining.

Waverley, 1986 by Joseph Purcell

MOI: I95.86.10

There were twenty farmhouses at Lake William in the Waverley Gold District in 1860, and 2000 people residing there by 1868. Miners and townspeople worked to make these hastily built towns home. Churches and schools were the heart of many communities. Sunday School, Ladies’ Aid, and Young People’s groups provided an opportunity to make friends and socialize. Events such as pie socials were used to raise money for the church and to provide entertainment for the community. The Sons of Temperance building in Waverley was used by Baptists, Wesleyans, Anglicans, Presbyterians, Roman Catholics, and Methodists.

A house under construction at Caribou Mines, NS.

Construction of buildings at Caribou, N.S.

N.S. Department of Natural Resources Historical Mine Photo Collection

Sometimes mining companies, like those in Caribou, donated money for the miners to build a non-denominational church of their own. The community of Caribou grew quickly from fifty residents in 1871 to 450 in 1891. Stores, hotels, and boarding houses were quickly constructed. The Caribou Gold Mines School was established in 1869. The school was rebuilt in 1935 with funds from the Consolidated Mining and Smelting Company.